Why Does God Allow Suffering

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There are so many questions people have when it comes to faith. Questions that even lead people to give up on their faith. One of the most asked questions throughout history is “Why does God allow evil and suffering.” This is a question that stops people from even following God. There is so much evil and suffering throughout the world today, so if God is so powerful and so mighty, why does he not just stop it? How can God be such a good God, but let all of this pain and suffering happen? There are babies born with disabilities, people who get diagnosed with cancer, wildfires, natural disasters, epidemics, and so much more. All of these things are so hard to understand, but God allows these things to happen for a purpose.

There are two types of evil in this world. Natural evil and moral evil. Natural evil would be that of natural disasters, like earthquakes or tsunamis, which humans cannot control. Moral evil would be the acts of humans that would be considered morally wrong, like rape and murder. Both of these evils can work together though and make each other worse (Moral evil and natural suffering). John 16:33 talks about how there is going to be evil and trouble in this world, but God has overcome the world.

The world today is not how God originally designed it. Evil and suffering started with the fall of Adam and Eve. God’s original plan was for humans to have authority over the earth, the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Prijs 2019). God created us to live exactly how he lives, but since the fall, evil and suffering entered the world and ruined God’s extraordinary plan for us. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The very first thing God did was give mankind the authority over the earth. Yet all of this only last a few chapters of Genesis. God’s original plan was for mankind to have rule over the earth, but then there was sin, and it changed everything. God did not prevent Adam and Eve from sinning, he only allowed it. Before the fall, Adam and Eve had no knowledge of good and evil (Prijs 2019). It was because of free will that Adam and Eve sinned and allowed evil to enter God’s perfect world. God wants a relationship with everyone, but He wants us to desire it. God will not force people into having a relationship with him. Sin is a choice and it is a decision.

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand why such a powerful God can let bad things happen. That is why most people lose their faith, or not even want to start their faith. Some say that there is no such thing as God because an almighty God would not allow suffering or pain. God uses evil and suffering to further his purposes and to ultimately accomplish his will. This is something that can be very difficult to comprehend, it is hard to grasp the mind around God using evil and suffering for good. In the story of Joseph, his brothers meant evil against him when they sold him into slavery, but God intended this event for good. God knew that Joseph’s brothers would eventually need him due to the famine. Proverbs 16:4 says “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

In our pain and suffering, God wants us to draw near to him. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is a verse that gets taken out of context very easily (Givens 2015). The context of this verse was when the Israelites were in exile in Babylon because of their disobedience with God. During the time the Israelites were in Babylon they meet a false prophet, Hananiah, who said that God will be freeing them from exile in two years. Jeremiah confronted Hananiah’s lie and states the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, before Jeremiah shares this promise, he gave the Israelites a directive from God that says “seek the peace and the prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you will too prosper.” Clearly, this is not what the Israelites wanted to hear, in verse 10 the Israelites were continued to be let down, God tells them “after seventy years are completed in Babylon,” is the time their suffering will end (Givens 2015). Jeremiah 29:11 is not a promise that God is going to take his people out of suffering, it is a promise that the people are going to find hope in the midst of it.

In the book of Job, God allowed Satan to test Job by taking everything from him but his life. Even though Job lost everything, he never turned away from God. Job was suffering because of all that he had lost. The reason for his suffering was never revealed. Job knew that God would remain faithful in his suffering though. In chapters 38-42 of Job, God spoke to him and restored him. Job had previously received bad guidance from his friends, but God declared to Job that humans do not know everything. God wants his people to trust that all of the pain in suffering in the world is part of his plan.

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Pain and suffering naturally bring people closer to Jesus, as long as the people put their worries on God and not on themselves. There is a famous quote that says, “God will never give you something that you cannot handle,” in reality, God does give people things that they cannot handle. The people have to choose to give their problems to God, then they will be able to handle the problem face first. Suffering for Christians is not only for eternity’s sake, but it is purifying in this life as well. God often uses suffering as a tool in the believer’s life to mold, sharpen, and strengthen them (“What is biblical perspective…”). Suffering can be the result of God’s discipline, which according to Hebrews 12:6-11, he does it out of love. Suffering could also be the result of the Lord pruning to make us more fruitful. God uses trials and sufferings to mold his followers into the image of His perfect son, sharpen our focus on Him, develop our character, and strengthen our faith in Him and His promises. God also uses suffering to keep us from pride and self-sufficiency and cause us to rely upon Him and His grace, which is the source of spiritual strength (“What is a biblical perspective…”).

Sometimes God seems quite in pain and suffering, just like Job experienced silence in his suffering. There was a long period I my life where I experienced silence in my suffering. My Dad had just gotten another divorce and moved to Chicago the day after I graduated. I was just about to enter a new season of life, and I was very frustrated. At the time I was also in a very toxic relationship that I was not sure how to get out of. I felt like I was turning to God and giving him everything, but nothing seemed to be going the right way. I was frustrated because I felt as though I was doing everything right, but I was not getting any response of what I should be doing or if I was making the right choices. God was silent in my life for about six months. I did not tell anyone what I was going through because I was embarrassed. I tried to handle my problems on my own. There was one night I cried out to God and told him that I could not keep giving everything to him and not get any comfort or response. I told God that if something does not happen then I am throwing my faith down the drain. That same night at 3 am, I woke my best friend up and cried to her. One of those big, ugly, hyperventilation cries. In the moment of telling my friend what I had been going through, I heard God. He said: “Lexy, I got you, be still.” Hearing that from God was a sigh of relief. My faith is still a little rocky, but I now know that I need to not try and tackle things on my own. One of my favorite verses is 1 Peter 5:7, it says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” The Christian faith is like a seed, when we are first planted, we feel good because we were just in the hands of the Lord. When we get put into the dirt, we feel alone, no one can see us. Some days it feels like no one can hear us, but we are still growing. There is going to be times in our lives where it may seem like we are under the dirt, but that is where we grow the most, it is where we get our strong roots.

The greatest story of suffering is when Jesus died on the cross. Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to the cross to be crucified, but it is because of the our sin. We are the reason that Christ died. The Apostle Peter declared that “Christ died for sins, to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ died for us so that we could live eternity with him in heaven. The apostle Paul witnessed that “Christ died for our sins, according to Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). We all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and according to Romans 6:23, the consequence of sin is death. We are all headed for judgment, condemnation, and eternal death unless God himself intervened (Solomon 2019). And God did intervene. The crucifixion of Jesus was not a historical accident (Solomon 2019). It was a carefully planned event, Paul pointed this out in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “according to Scriptures.” Romans 5:8 talks about how Jesus willingly laid his life down for us because he loved us. God allowed his own son to go through the pain and the suffering, so we do not have to. God is such an awesome God.

The Bible makes no promise to take away our suffering in this lifetime, but it does give some hope that suffering will one day be ended forever. At the end of the Bible, there is a magnificent vision of a coming world in which all pain and suffering is gone forever. Revelation 21:4 says, “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” The image of God wiping away tears from the eyes of his people communicates not just the ending of earthly suffering, but the comfort for earthly things (Ortlund). In the Bible, heaven represents the place where sadness does not just end, but it becomes unknown, forever. This gift is offered to anyone who repents of sin and trusts in Christ for salvation (Ortlund). According to the Bible, those who reject this salvation and persist in rebellion against God will be banished from God’s presence and experience eternal death and suffering.

Suffering can produce very different outcomes in different peoples’ lives, depending on how they respond to it. The same painful experience can make one person bitter, narrow, and ungenerous, and another person sweeter, humbler, and more patient (Ortlund). James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The Apostle Paul took this a little bit further and said, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” The New Testament repeatedly calls Christians to stand up under unjust suffering, and even to rejoice in it in light of God’s redemptive purposes (Ortlund).

Though suffering, comes revival. God wants us to draw near to him during times of suffering. Whether it be a global pandemic, war, a tsunami, or even a mass shooting, all of these events can spark a revival. Revival is held back when God’s people refuse to get right with him though. True revival is when the living God sovereignly and powerfully breaks into human history with the good news of His salvation. Traumatic events spark a revival, people coming together in tough situations sparks a revival, people spreading the good news of the Lord sparks a revival! It is often at such bare times that God breaks into history with true revival. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God often waits until things are hopeless so that no one will glory in others, but only in the Lord. With suffering, comes revival.

Although it is difficult to comprehend God’s complex and mysterious ways, the Lord is the only source for true comfort and refuge in the midst of an evil world. In order to correctly respond to evil, we must not only be convinced that God is our help in time of trouble, but we must also understand that pain and suffering are designed to cultivate a stronger desire for God. The Lord works wonders in times of trial and suffering, it is all about trusting and leaning into Him to get through it all.

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Why Does God Allow Suffering. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-does-god-allow-suffering/
“Why Does God Allow Suffering.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/why-does-god-allow-suffering/
Why Does God Allow Suffering. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-does-god-allow-suffering/> [Accessed 4 Jul. 2022].
Why Does God Allow Suffering [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Jul 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/why-does-god-allow-suffering/
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